Horizon Organic® HOPE and National Quality Awards Recipients Announced During Farm Aid 2015
BROOMFIELD, Colo., (Sept. 18, 2015) – Horizon Organic® today announced the 2015 recipients of two annual awards that honor its family farmers. Paul and Diane Staehely of Staehely’s Valley Veue Dairy in Oregon City, Ore., received the Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) Award for being advocates for organic agriculture. Gerard and Kay Spinner of Rainbow’s End farm in Fort Covington, N.Y. won the National Quality Award, which recognizes the Horizon farmer who produces the highest quality organic milk in the entire Horizon milk supply. In addition, Adam and Sarah Goelz in MapleLake, Minn. and Michael and Marilyn Gardner in Pownal, VT were named as honorable mentions for the HOPE Award. This year’s recipients will attend the annual Farm Aid concert in Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 19 and be honored at a Horizon awards dinner during the event weekend.
“The Staehely family has consistently proven their commitment to organic agriculture, now and for the next generation,” said Mike Ferry, Horizon president. “We are proud to present them with this year’s HOPE Award and pleased to recognize the Spinner family with this year’s National Quality Award, a prime example of steadfast dedication to producing the highest quality organic milk.”
HOPE Award: Paul and Diane Staehely, Oregon City, Ore.
Paul and Diane Staehely transitioned to organic farming and began shipping to Horizon Organic in 2002.
Offering the next generation an opportunity to farm in an environmentally sustainable way is Paul and Diane’s ultimate goal for their farm. Paul regularly invites fellow farmers to visit his farm to learn more about organic practices, and their son Jason recently returned home with his own family to represent the fourth generation on the farm.
Their nephew Andy Millison also works with them on Valley Veue Farm. The Staehelys divide farm duties between the four of them to ensure success. Paul and Jason take care of the maintaining the farm and equipment, crop production cow comfort, manure management, irrigation and pasture rotation. Diane and Andy work together to take care of the herd health as well as feeding and raising calves. Diane takes care of all cow records, certification records and paying bills, while Paul and Andy share responsibilities in breeding their cows. The Staehely family takes time out for camping and hunting, and every winter they enjoy a ski trip together.
The Staehelys are consistently in the national top ten of Horizon Organic Dairy quality milk producers, and they are seven-time winners of the Oregon top quality award. They have implemented many innovative practices that protect and improve the quality of soil, water, and their cows. They manage the grazing of their pastures, using strip grazing and maintaining cover crops to prevent run-off.
HOPE Award: Honorable Mentions
Horizon also announced two honorable mentions for the 2015 HOPE Award at Farm Aid. Adam and Sarah Goelz of Goelz Family Organic Farm in MapleLake, Minn. and Michael and Marilyn Gardner of Gardner Family Farm in Pownal, VT also attended Farm Aid in Chicago.
The Goelz family transitioned to organic in 2006 and began producing for Horizon when they became certified in 2009. Some of the attributes of organic that appeal to Sarah are that the products are not synthetic or genetically modified. “What you see is what you get.” Their future plans for the farm are to successfully pass it down to the next generation. Currently, farm chores are divided among the family. “All of the kids are expected to work and take turns helping Dad milk.”
The family likes to play together as well as work. In August they went on a week-long fishing vacation and stayed in a log cabin and relaxed by a campfire and played cards. Sarah encourages fellow farmers to keep an open mind about organic, saying, “It’s here to stay and is only going to grow.”
Michael and Marilyn Gardner bought their farm in 1980, and began shipping to Horizon Organic in 2004. They were open-minded about transitioning to organic farming because they were already pasturing, rotating their herds, and they did not spray fertilizer. Michael and Marilyn have three grown boys Mike, Matt and Marc. They also have six grandchildren, Cody, Kayla, Grace, Tristin, Kendall and Gwen. Their sons Matt and Marc both work on the farm fulltime.
National Quality Award: Gerard and Kay Spinner
Gerard and Kay Spinner transitioned to organic farming in 2006. “Organic is geared more for quality than quantity,” Gerard says. “Before we transitioned, the commercial market was pushing for production to keep up with the milk price, so everyone just made more milk. But we saw the quality go down.” Gerard’s careful attention to milk quality has consistently landed his farm in the top ten quality rankings nationwide among Horizon producers. This is the first year he ranked number one.
Gerard’s wife, Kay, appreciates organic farming as a family-friendly means of producing milk. They have 6 children and 15 grandchildren, and the Spinner home is a gathering place in the community. Kay recently turned one of the barns into a wedding venue, which is also used for the grandkids’ birthday parties.
“Our best fun is just hanging around the property after church on Sundays, having what we call a Spinner Dinner,” Gerard says. “Our kids are very proud of what we do, which means a lot to us.”
In the field and in life, Gerard encourages the younger generations to “take pride in what you do, and when you’re done for the day you’ll find you enjoyed what you did”.
Each year, Horizon also recognizes the top 10 percent of Horizon farmers in each state whose milk is the highest quality within the network. For consideration, farmers must ship organic milk to the company for one full calendar year, and the average test results for each shipment must be among the best in their respective states.
The families recognized today will be among the attendees at the Farm Aid concert in Chicago, IL. America’s longest running concert-for-a-cause, Farm Aid is held annually to help further its mission to keep farm families on their land. Horizon Organic has been a sponsor of Farm Aid since 2003.
Horizon believes in the power of simple, happy foods to feed the imagination, inspire fresh experiences and create fun family moments. From a delicious variety of certified organic dairy products to pantry staples, like Snack Crackers, Snack Grahams and Mac & Cheese, all Horizon products are packed with organic goodness. Founded in 1991, Horizon was a pioneer in the organic industry, the first company to supply organic milk nationally and remains committed to providing great-tasting products that make it easy for moms to help grow curious, confident kids. Since its founding, Horizon has been dedicated to supporting a healthier planet and makes good on this promise through offsetting emissions associated with the energy used to produce its products and working with nearly 700 organic dairy family farmers across the U.S. For more information about Horizon products, visit horizondairy.com.
About Farm Aid
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $45 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.